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Meet Emmett Shear, OpenAI’s ‘Highly Intelligent, Socially Awkward’ Interim CEO


“I’m skeptical. If Twitch serves as a precursor to what’s to come in AI, we can expect a lot of opaque policies and missed opportunities,” says Joost van Dreunen, professor of business at New York University and author of One at the top, a book about the global video game industry. “Twitch succeeded almost despite its leadership. The platform remains poorly integrated with parent owner Amazon, has lackluster communication with content creators and industry partners, and has prioritized monetization over investment in its ecosystem. Such a mandate should raise concerns about how AI will evolve from here.

But the former Twitch employee says Shear has certain attributes that make him a good fit for the role. “The move to OpenAI makes perfect sense to me,” they say. “For him, Twitch was a creative platform that was there for the good of individuals: it was less about profits and more about the democratization of television. It has a certain ethical core.

Adam Smith, co-founder of messaging app Xobni, which like Twitch was part of the Y Combinator community, says: “While I don’t agree with some of what Emmett has said in the past on AI risks, Emmett is very high on my list. people I would like to work with at some point. He is one of the smartest people I know, extremely curious about the world and a truly wonderful person.

Things at Twitch have been rough in recent years. There was widespread discontent in the community over changes in streamer revenue distribution last year and in March 2023, Shear resigned from his position, saying he wanted to spend more time with his newborn. A History of 2023 in The Washington Postpublished after Shear’s departure, cited former Twitch employees saying the company had entered a crisis, criticizing its management and lack of direction.

“By the time he left Twitch, he had certainly become quite unpopular with the Twitch audience,” says Mark Johnson, a lecturer in digital cultures at the University of Sydney. “I think a lot of people interested in Twitch would present it as not having been very responsive in recent years to the needs of creators and the community, a little disconnected.”



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